“Language is a virus from outer space.”
-William S. Burroughs
We evolve our language to allow us to communicate with each other. As there has been a great deal of change brought on because of the Internet, we have needed many new terms to describe this change. These terms have helped us to frame larger concepts. Our technology has given us abilities that alter our reality. I can communicate instantly with anyone in the world. This changes the game.
We’ve come up with all kinds of ways to describe what is happening. We might well have just gone back to McLuhan to find that this has all been predicted. But we must, because we are human, redefine it for ourselves.
I’d like to share some examples regarding what I mean when I say, we need this language.
Jesse James Garrett coined the term, AJAX. As I understand the story, he was trying to think of a way to communicate to a client some complex concepts. The technology for what he was describing had been around for awhile, but nobody had framed it as Jesse did. This framing made it a much more accessible concept and desirable as a tool for business and design.
Tim O’Reilly came along with his Web 2.0 conference. I don’t think I’ve met a marketing professional that doesn’t use the term, ‘web 2.0’ multiple times a day to attach the concept to the work they do. We need to understand the significant shifts that are occurring right now. Language helps us grok the bigger concept and discuss that concept and its details.
These words and phrases help us ‘contain’ something. They help us to understand it and communicate about it. Even though it’s not specific, it is useful.